Tag Archives: keys to lifelong marriage

The Longer We’re Married, The Better It Gets

It’s been a while since I have read an article as positive about marraige as this one by Jeanine Earnhart at Huffington Post. The article is called “Grow old with me, the best is yet to be.” It began with Earnhart admiring an older married couple, picturing her own marriage at that stage. Earnhart makes her point by sharing her marital experience:

“The longer we’re married, the better it gets and I’d like to think that is a pattern that will continue. Whether you have been married a few years, 25 years or in the planning stages of your wedding, know that there is a future filled with rewards from the work you are putting into your relationship now. The “gold watch” or the “bonus” from years of marriage cannot be seen or worn or spent, but felt by an invisible connection between you and your partner.”

It’s great to hear such a positive sentiment about aging and about staying with the same person. Rather than being stifling, it’s nourishing and fulfilling.

“It is a good feeling to know that your partner will be with you through the best and the worst parts of your life. Here is a friend who is offering unconditional love, appreciating you for who you are and for who you have become. To be able to sit in a room with another person, not saying a word, and not feeling like you should be talking, yet knowing there is an invisible bond between you, is like the safety you feel when coming home.”

I know there are many single readers here, and it’s not my intent to say married life is a better choice for everyone. However, for those who choose married life, I think it’s great to share the positive experiences and comfort you experience.

Read the entire post, and then share with your partner what you think your future will look like together. Spend 10 minutes together and talk about what you imagine growing old together to be like.

Unfortunately, for an increasing number of older adults, marriage isn’t lasting to old age. This article from the U.K. states that a growing number of over 60s are seeking divorce. Divorce rates in England are up 4 percent in two years for this age group, but down for other age groups. “Experts claim that many older couples are drifting apart out of disillusionment in their marriages once their children have flown the nest.”

It’s a good reminder that we can’t expect a close, loving relationship to last for decades without investing time and energy to maintain it, and without keeping it a priority over our kids and our careers.

LINKS:
Read my post at About.com called 7 Lessons for a Stronger Marriage with lessons from my book. Thanks to Cathy Meyer for sharing.

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Photo by Ambro courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.
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The Secret to Long Marriage

Author and psychologist Maggie Scarf, who has herself been married 55 years, interviewed 75 couples between 50 and 75 years old to learn about marriage in the later years. The result is a book called September Songs: The Good News About Marriage in the Later Years. She expected lots of complaints about how tough life and marriage was in these longer marriages. What she found was that most marriages showed a U-shaped trajectory over time.

In the beginning of these marriages was a blissful peak, which was followed by a challenging time with the stress of career building and child rearing. Many of you are currently in this challenging time. In fact, this is frequently when marriages fall apart or become extremely worn out. “Every marriage has a downside, a time when you looked across the room and thought …what is it with this person?” Scarf said. But there is a longer view to keep in mind.

What Scarf found was that couples who got through the tough patches gained more time together and “refound” one another, including the fun and intimacy they once had. They actually regained that peak point, making the other side of the U. Scarf calls these happier older years the “bonus years” which include a longer, healthier, happier life.

The secret of a long marriage may be that couples who stay together can envision this up side while they are enduring stressful times. In fact, I just interviewed an amazing military family that has endured an Iraq deployment and many years of infertility. Now that they have a house full of young children (whom they struggled and longed for), they have little time for one another. However, they like to focus on the joy amidst the current chaos, and the peace they will eventually enjoy together when their children are a little older. In short, they can see to the other side.

Where are you in the “U”? How do you envision your future together?

*Originally published at Marriage Gems in April 2009.

Photo courtesty of Stockvault.net by James Sigle

Download New E-book: 10 Secrets to Marital Happiness

Many of you have asked me to compile some of the most important marriage advice into a useful resource that you can share with others. Today, you can download Marriage Gems: 10 Secrets to Marital Happiness at no cost. I’m interested in your feedback on what you consider to be the most important factors or secrets to a happy marriage. Did I leave out any you consider to be essential? What’s your favorite of the ten?

Please pass it on to your friends or family by linking them to this blog post or here. You’ll also see on the page that you can share the e-book via FaceBook, Twitter or other tools, as well as comment on it. I want to thank my amazing designer and great friend Sharron Wright, who helped me make this book stunningly beautiful. (Visit her blog Moms with Grace.) I hope you enjoy the e-book and share it with anyone whom you think would benefit.

In addition to this new e-book, I’ve also added other marriage resources to my blog, including a list of blogs I enjoy, a directory of pro-marriage therapists, and a list of useful marriage books. In case you’re wondering, no one is paying me to recommend any of these resources. Just scan the new pages at the top of the home page to locate them.

If you aren’t a regular subscriber, please consider doing so either via email or RSS in the top right column. We’d love to have you join the conversation here about what challenges you in marriage and what lights your fire.

Two Dozen Experts Share Keys to Lifelong Marriage

More than 15 relationship experts have teamed up to share their personal and professional advice for marriage in Creating a Marriage You’ll Love: Secrets for Building a Rich and Full Life Together. Some of the contributors, such as John Gray, PhD, are rather well known, and others have been researching marriage behind the scenes for decades to determine what works in real life. The book’s royalties will be donated to organizations dedicated to helping domestic violence victims.

With marriage failure rates between 45 and 50 percent, and when one out of every three children in this country can expect their parents to divorce, such compilations of best research and advice can be helpful to couples serious about success. The advice is presented in an easy-to-understand manner, along with personal illustrations, some from the researchers’ own marriages. Following are just a few nuggets I appreciated:

Terri Orbuch, PhD, writes about how today’s economy is forcing couples to spend more time making ends meet and concerned about jobs, health and children—and less time focused on each other. She followed 373 couples for 22 years and developed recommendations from her research.

Orbuch says it’s the small annoyances and irritations—rather than the big events and problems in life—that often lead to unhappiness and instability in a marriage. In fact, the larger events, such as unemployment or a death in the family, often cause a couple to rely on one another for support and love. Tough times can bring us closer together, while failure to listen to and acknowledge your spouse on a day-to-day basis can be deadly to a relationship.

She also offers the great advice for couples going through a rough patch to focus on what is working well in the marriage instead of dissecting what is wrong with the marriage and trying to fix it. “I have found that the most effective way to boost happiness, commitment, harmony, fun, and passion in a marriage that is basically sound is to add new elements to the marriage, and to focus on how to support and strengthen what’s already working well,” says Orbuch.

She adds that in her long-term study, loving couples shared four characteristics: having realistic expectations, regularly reconnecting with one’s spouse (i.e. taking a bike ride or sharing some laughs), sharing trust, and affirming and validating each other (especially important for men).

One piece of advice from Gray: “To fully open our hearts together and enjoy a lifetime of love, the most important skill of all is forgiveness.” This means forgiving your partner as well as yourself for not being perfect, allowing you to give and receive love again. Anyone who has been married more than a few years will acknowledge the importance of forgiveness in being able to reestablish true intimacy after a conflict.

Creating a Marriage You’ll Love offers many other studies and insights you may find valuable. (I receive no compensation for reviewing the book or for resulting sales.)

If you have a satisfying marriage, what do you think is the secret to your success? Or, if you struggle in your relationship, what is the one thing you desire most? Do you agree with the above advice from Orbuch and Gray?